What exactly is a tooth cavity? A cavity is, quite literally, a hole in your tooth. A cavity is tooth decay that has eaten through the outer layers of your tooth to cause a hole.
In some cases, a cavity does not get to the point where it turns into a hole. However, it will still show up as damage on the tooth’s surface and may cause a small opening rather than a deep hole. The damage created by decay can allow bacteria, food particles, and plaque inside the tooth, which can cause further deterioration of the tooth enamel.
But what causes dental cavities, how do you know if you have one, and how can you deal with them? This article is all about cavities!
What Causes Dental Cavities?
There are a few things that can cause dental cavities, the most common one being poor oral hygiene.
Not brushing and flossing your teeth or visiting your dentist for professional teeth cleanings can lead to plaque buildup on the teeth. Over time, plaque and bacteria can eat away at the tooth enamel, causing tooth decay.
Dental cavities can also be caused by a diet high in sugar and low in nutrients. Sugar, especially from sweetened beverages, increases the number of acid-producing bacteria in your mouth that can harm tooth enamel.
If you frequently consume sugary foods or beverages or sip beverages all day, your chances of tooth decay are higher.
Cavities can also be caused by:
• A chipped or cracked tooth
• Chronic dry mouth
• Enamel erosion from aggressive brushing
• Teeth grinding, which can wear down tooth enamel
In many cases, cavities form because of multiple factors. For instance, if you consume lots of sweets, have poor oral health, and have chronic dry mouth, you will be at higher risk for cavities than someone who does not have these risk factors.
How Do You Tell If You Have a Cavity?
When a cavity progresses, it can cause symptoms such as a toothache or even a bad taste in your mouth. Advanced cavities may even cause a tooth infection or dental abscess that can be painful and cause other symptoms, such as a fever or swelling on the side of your face where the cavity is.
However, if a cavity is in its early stages, you typically won’t experience symptoms or see signs of decay.
With early tooth decay, some people may see an area that looks unusually white on their teeth. This may be an area where the enamel has worn away, and a cavity may form. Other people may notice a small brown spot on their tooth or a “stain” in the crevice of a molar. All of these discolorations could indicate tooth decay.
For the most part, people do not know they have a cavity until their dentist tells them.
The best way to tell if you have a cavity is to visit your dentist in Asheville. How does your dentist know you have a cavity? Your dentist will perform an exam and take X-rays to determine if you have any cavities. Dental X-rays will help your dentist identify any cavities in areas that can’t be seen with the eye, such as between the teeth.
How to Deal With Cavities
A cavity will not go away on its own. Instead, the hole in your tooth will allow more bacteria and plaque inside, which will create a larger cavity. Eventually, the tooth decay can compromise your entire tooth and become so large that a filling alone won’t solve the issue—root canal therapy or an extraction may be needed.
The good news is that the sooner you identify a cavity, the sooner you can treat it. The best way to deal with cavities is to get them filled by your dentist. In some cases, very small cavities may not need to be filled and may instead be able to be reversed with proper treatment, such as in-office fluoride applications.
A small cavity will always be easier to treat than a large one, so don’t skip your dental checkups or ignore a cavity if you have one—treating it now will help it go away with minimal intervention, so your oral health will be restored.
Treatment for cavities may include:
• Root canal therapy
• Dental crowns
Some cases may require a combination of treatments. For example, fillings and root canal therapy may be used in combination with dental crowns to restore and protect teeth with large cavities.
Can You Prevent Cavities?
You can prevent cavities with proper oral hygiene, such as brushing, flossing, eating healthy, and visiting your dentist in Asheville. To experience the most benefits with these practices:
• Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush
• Floss once a day using the proper flossing technique (making a “C” shape with the floss and going just underneath the gumline)
• Eat a healthy diet that includes whole foods and drink plenty of water
• Visit your dentist every six months
Visiting your dentist for checkups can help ensure you do not have cavities. If you begin to develop a cavity, you can deal with it immediately rather than risk losing your tooth or needing root canal therapy to fix the problem.
Preventing cavities is simple and won’t just help you avoid certain oral health problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. It can also enhance your entire smile by giving you cleaner, healthier, and more beautiful teeth. It will also reduce the need for restorative dentistry, such as dental fillings, root canals, dental crowns, and extractions.
Ensure Your Smile Is Cavity-Free Today
A cavity should never be ignored, so ensure your smile is cavity-free by scheduling a checkup with Saunders DDS today. We provide dental care for the whole family, so you can prevent cavities and keep your smile as healthy and beautiful as possible. Call us at (828) 277-6060 or use our contact form online to request an appointment. We look forward to helping you keep your smile cavity-free!
Do not hesitate to contact our Asheville dentist if you experience tooth cavities. Early cavity detection is key to a less invasive, more effective treatment. Call us at (828) 277-6060 to book an appointment.